Thursday, December 5, 2013

Taste of Hawaii Here at Home

Aloha BBQ
24000 Alicia Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

I have recently become enamored with Hawaiian food. Not wanting to pay the crazy $500 airfare to the islands, I have set out to find some of the best Hawaiian cuisine on this side of the ocean. I hit pay dirt when someone suggested that we try Hapa J's in San Clemente. We tried their poke, a mixed plate, and their Hapa Fries with Kahlua pork placed on top of them. All were fantastic. It got me thinking that there must be other places that specialize in Hawaiian food. Just as I was thinking this, longtime fan of the blog, Amanda suggested that we try Aloha BBQ, which just happens to be about a mile away from our house. So we waited until we had a rare free night, got in the car, and headed to Aloha BBQ.

Aloha BBQ is located on Alicia, in the same shopping center as the Meat House, Starbucks, and Baja Fresh. It seems every time we are in this shopping center they are closed, but we hit them early enough that they were open. The inside of the restaurant was pretty small, with about seven tables. It seems a good deal of their business is for takeout, as we saw about five orders being picked up by people during forty minute stay. I kind of liked the vibe here. They had soft reggae playing over the speakers, the bright orange walls, and the high ceilings conveyed an aura of openness. Ordering is done at the counter, then they bring the food out to you. The menu is just what you would suspect in a casual Hawaiian joint. Noodles, Bowls, and barbecue items dominate the menu, but they did not have my beloved fries with Kahlua pork on top of them. Oh well, we placed our order and waited to see what they had in store for us.

Not really what I think of when I am in the mood for Hawaiian, but Katie really wanted these Potstickers ($4.50). These come six to an order, and are served with a little container of what I would call sweet and sour sauce. I thought these were kind of average. They were filled with chicken and vegetables, and topped with green onion. They were fried, but not overly greasy. The sauce could have been a little more sweet for my taste, but did the trick of adding extra flavor to these.

When Katie's plate was placed in front of her, my first thought was that this was a lot of food. Katie selected the Double Combination Plate ($11.99) and took BBQ Pork and BBQ Chicken as her selections. The pork was sliced thinly, and pretty tender and flavorful. I tend to shy away from chicken in restaurants, because they tend to overcook it. This was not the case at Aloha BBQ, as the chicken was fork tender. I also really liked the grill marks on the meats. This plate was rounded out by macaroni and a bean sprout salad. I am not much into macaroni salad, but this one had more of a potato salad consistency to it, which I thought was pretty good. It was not as thin as other macaroni salads can be. Bean sprouts are not really my thing, but Katie liked this light salad well enough.

My plate really does not look that much different from Katie's. I went with the Double Combination Plate ($11.99) as well, but I selected different meats. I had the BBQ Short Ribs and the BBQ Pork. I have come to the conclusion that I am not too big of a fan of BBQ short ribs. I liked these a little better than the ones I had at Hapa J's, just because they were not as fatty as those. There is just too little meat with short ribs in Hawaiian restaurants. The meat was flavored well, with a slight, not overwhelming teriyaki tinge to it. The short ribs were pretty tender, and broke easily away from the bone. The BBQ pork was fine, but I had wanted it to compare with the pork from Hapa J's, which it did not. To be fair though, that was shredded Kahlua pork, and this was just barbecued pork. Same flavor here as the other meats, but this pork was my favorite out of all the meats here. Nice grill marks, sliced thinly, and a natural saltiness that went well with the sweet teriyaki. This plate was served over a bed of rice, and was paired with an average green salad, and the same macaroni salad that has got me rethinking my stance on macaroni salad.

Is Aloha BBQ destination dining? No, unfortunately it's not. I can not see too many people driving from North OC to come here, but if you are in the area, and you feel like having some pretty good Hawaiian barbecue, then this place will hit the spot. I'm still partial to the food at Hapa J's, but when we don't feel like tackling the 5 Freeway during dinner time, Aloha BBQ will fill our Hawaiian  food void. The prices here were pretty good for the amount of food that you get. You are not going to leave Aloha BBQ hungry. I am looking forward to coming back and maybe trying one of their bowls, or maybe even their Hawaiian Burger. Now that I do not have to shell out half a grand in plane tickets to Honolulu to experience the food of the islands, I'll have plenty of dough to explore the menu at Aloha BBQ.

Out of five doughnuts, (because doughnuts naturally go good with coffee, and the only US state to produce coffee commercially is Hawaii), five being best to zero being worst, Aloha BBQ gets 3 doughnuts.

For more information about Aloha BBQ, go to their web site here:

Aloha BBQ on Urbanspoon

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